Strip away Madonna’s relentless publicity machine, Givenchy costumes and Super Bowl appearance and what’s left is a single, “Give Me All Your Luvin,’” her latest reprise of the 1980s dance music that has made her career one long dance party.
Her latest 3-minute-22-second pop number is pumped up with football-style chants and raps by Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., who departed from script at the Feb. 5 Halftime Show in Indianapolis by making a finger gesture: Doesn’t she know that hell hath no fury like a Madonna upstaged?
“Give Me All Your Luvin’” is no better or worse than Madonna’s last singles -- she has released more than 70 and has been on a whirlwind of television and magazine interviews to also promote her movie “W.E.”
Many people are already Madonna-ed out, even before she orders, as she has done for decades, “give me all your love, let’s forget about time and dance the night away.”
This banal lyric is on a par with “hey Mister DJ, put a record on, I wanna dance with my baby,” though that unremarkable line at least kick-starts her insidiously sexy anthem “Music.”
Perhaps we should savor the ever-more unseemly spectacle of Madonna getting raunchy in the hilarious video -- she’s sending herself up in a clinch with hunky sportsmen -- because it’s not an act she can keep up forever.
The headlines are bound to say that, at 53, she’s back to recapture her “Queen of Pop” crown. Young pretender Lady Gaga was born in 1986, at which time Madonna had already enjoyed No. 1 hits such as “Crazy for You” and “Like a Virgin.” Still, Madonna has never really been away, because her influence looms large over many divas who have followed, from Britney Spears to Rihanna.
She deserves credit for her strong-willed perseverance. Not that it’s enough of a reason to add this slight yet fun download to the 300 million records she already has sold. It puts down the template for the album, set for release on March 26, that’s titled “MDNA,” an abbreviation for Madonna, though it could easily be called “More of the Same” or “Going Round in Ever Decreasing Circles.”
By the time she starts her biggest-ever world tour in Israel in May, Madonna probably will be back at No. 1 in many countries. You have been warned. Rating: ***.
Paul McCartney’s latest album is a collection of pop standards that inspired him from his earliest days.
Revealingly, this is no homage to uptempo 1950s music like John Lennon’s “Rock ‘N’ Roll.” Instead, it has the sort of gently swinging jazzy numbers listened to by McCartney’s family when he was growing up in the 1940s. The result is closer to Ringo Starr’s “Sentimental Journey” from 1970, which also covered the Dixon-Henderson composition “Bye Bye Blackbird” and other sappy ballads liked by the drummer’s mom.
McCartney’s choices are brave, considering the criticism he has faced for sentimentality and “Silly Love Songs.” Perhaps the most daring thing is the album’s eyebrow-raising title, “Kisses on the Bottom,” which comes from a line in the first track, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” once a hit for Fats Waller.
The recently remarried ex-Beatle’s cover of “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” shows him further lightening up after the jaunty “Memory Almost Full” in 2007. This may be Paul’s year as he joins Shirley Bassey and Elton John to play at the Queen’s London Diamond Jubilee concert in June.
Fortunately, one of the world’s most accomplished songwriters offers two originals that fit in with the older works. “Only Our Hearts” has a harmonica solo by Stevie Wonder. “My Valentine,” with Eric Clapton on guitar, will endure for longer. It inspires a red heart Feb. 14 gift sticker on some copies of the CD. If you are looking for an easy listening Valentine’s Day gift, you’ve found it.
What the Stars Mean: ***** Exceptional **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
Download fees for Madonna’s single, on Interscope, and McCartney’s album, on Hear Music, vary across services. “Kisses on the Bottom” was released yesterday, priced from about $10 in the U.S. and 9 pounds in the U.K. There is a deluxe edition priced at about $12 or 11 pounds, adding two tracks and with an added digital download. Information: http://www.madonna.com and http://store.paulmccartney.com/kissesonthebottom/usd.php
(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)